Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cleveland Browns Week 1 Predictions: Against the Spread, Total, and Props
There's nothing quite like a Week 1 matchup that was also a playoff matchup from the year prior. In the Divisional Round, the Cleveland Browns, after a surprising blowout over the Pittsburgh Steelers, gave the Chiefs a good fight losing a tight one 22-17.
Granted, Patrick Mahomes did leave with an injury, but even when Mahomes was in the game, Cleveland did a good job keeping it within striking distance with the defending champs.
Now, with expectations high for both teams, it'll be the first true test for the Browns. Then, finally, we'll get an idea of whether they can keep up with the two-time defending AFC Champions or if they are a talented roster on paper that still isn't quite ready to play with the elites.
Cleveland Browns Preview
In year one of Kevin Stefanski, the Browns bounced back nicely after a letdown 2019 season. They finished 14th in total offense, an eight-spot improvement from the year prior, and were led by the dynamic rushing attack of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
The two combined for over 1,900 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground, while Baker Mayfield changed his passing approach. Mayfield mainly played mistake-free football, throwing just eight interceptions vs. 21 the year prior.
With Odell Beckahm Jr back and healthy for the season, the passing attack should be improved compared to what we saw in 2020. On the defensive side of the ball, the Browns took a low-risk, high reward swing on Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney wasn't nearly as effective last year, was brought in on a cheap one-year prove-it deal to play opposite Myles Garrett. They were 16th in the league in sacks last season, and if Clowney performs at even 80% the player he once was, that should launch them towards top-10 in that category defensively.
Kansas City Chiefs Preview
You don't have to change much when you have Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and the best play-caller in the NFL in Andy Reid. Kansas City was dominant once again in 2020. Unfortunately, a couple of offensive line injuries held them back from being back-to-back Super Bowl champions.
In the offseason, Kansas City went all-in on the offensive line. They moved on from Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, traded for Orlando Brown, signed Joe Thuney to a five-year $80 million deal, and drafted Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith in the NFL Draft.
With an improved offensive line and most of the core returning, there is no reason to believe that the Chiefs shouldn't continue their dominance in the AFC again in 2021.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cleveland Browns Betting Predictions
Neither the Chiefs nor the Browns were great at covering the spread last season. Kansas City went 8-11 ATS, including the playoffs, while the Browns were 8-10. So if you were looking for a trend from last year to carry over, this doesn't help you much.
Last year, Cleveland let up the 8th most passing TD's and the 11th most passing yards. Considering the Chiefs had the third-most passing attempts, you can likely expect them to put up points against this Cleveland defense.
While the Browns young CB duo of Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams is continuing to develop, the chances of them being able to contain the high-octane offense Andy Reid will throw at them seems small.
The Chiefs should cover the six-point spread and possibly double digits if they keep the time of possession in their favor. Also, Cleveland hit the over 55.6% of the time last year, while the Chiefs were at 47.4%. So a play on the over at 54 might be wise as well.